UPDATE 1-Kodak sues Matsushita over digital camera patents

Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:23am EDT

(Adds Matsushita comment)

NEW YORK, July 27 (Reuters) - Eastman Kodak Co. EK.N said on Friday it is suing Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.(6752.T), alleging that the maker of Panasonic brand consumer electronics infringed Kodak's digital camera patents.

According to the suit, which also names as defendants Panasonic Corp. of North America, Victor Co. of Japan 6792.T and JVC America, the infringed patents include ones for an "electronic camera utilizing image compression and digital storage" and "an apparatus and method for previewing motion images using a series of lower resolution still images."

Matsushita is the majority owner of JVC, whose official name is Victor Co. of Japan.

Kodak filed the suit on July 25 in the Eastern District of Texas. It has requested a jury trial and damages.

"Matsushita Electric is aware of the suit but has not been served yet," said a spokesman for Matsushita Electric at its New Jersey office. "Not having had the opportunity to study the documents, we are not able to comment on it."

Earlier this year, Kodak signed a cross-licensing pact with Sony Corp. (6758.T) that settled a similar patent dispute.

Kodak spokesman David Lanzillo said the Rochester, New York-based company has had talks with Matsushita, but no agreement has been reached.

"We have attempted to resolve the matter...for a number of years, but the discussions have not led to a suitable licensing agreement," he said.

Kodak, which is in the last year of a lengthy and expensive transformation into a digital photography company as its film business shrinks, has said it intends to lean on its wealth of intellectual property to help boost its bottom line.

It expects up to $250 million this year alone in royalties and related revenues. (Reporting by Franklin Paul)

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